Longborough Festival Opera brings opera to Cotswolds schools this summer

Longborough Festival Opera have announced the return of Playground Opera, its ambitious project to bring the magic of opera to young people across the Cotswolds in schools in the area.

This highly acclaimed programme is part of the festival’s ongoing commitment to making opera accessible to a wider audience and will see Longborough’s emerging artists and musicians perform in local schools during the summer term.

Playground Opera was launched in 2021 and annually reaches over 1,500 school children across the Cotswolds. In 2023, Longborough will tour a specially adapted performance of Bizet’s most famous opera, Carmen, entitled The Downfall of Don José. This adaptation is filled with rollicking good tunes that students will recognise, plot twists and colourful characters.

Don Jose 2022 cr David Fawbert
Longborough Festival Opera at a local school in 2022 (photographer credit – David Fawbert)

The Longborough Education Team, which includes directors, musicians, singers, and actors, will spend a full day at each school unpacking the issues of the story, encouraging children to consider their own choices, and even rewriting the narrative. Pupils will learn the Children’s Chorus as well as the Toreador’s Chorus from Carmen and will participate with the professional opera singers in the final show, which will be performed at each school.

Longborough Festival Opera’s Playground Opera project is a unique and innovative way to engage young people with the world of opera. By bringing opera to schools and immersing pupils in the plots and music, the project aims to develop a love of opera that will stay with them for years to come. This initiative not only provides an opportunity for students to experience the art form, but it also helps to promote creativity, teamwork, and confidence.

Speaking about the project, Jessica May, Longborough’s Head of Learning and Participation said: 

“The enthusiastic takeup for Longborough’s Playground Opera by local schools propels this wonderful programme further forward, and there are never enough days in the tour to meet the demand. This year, we’ve turned the tragic story of Carmen upside down into a cautionary tale of catastrophic decision making. ‘The Downfall of Don José’ takes the magic combination of a great story and beautiful music (performed by world class musicians) into the hearts of schools, inspiring a new generation of opera lovers.”

Please visit lfo.org.uk/participate/playground-opera for more information

About Longborough Festival Opera

Martin and Lizzie Graham started promoting opera in the grounds of their home in 1991 as Banks Fee Opera. Longborough Festival Opera has since grown into an established opera company, situated in the heart of the Cotswolds, with an annual season taking place in a purpose-built opera house seating 500. Martin and Lizzie’s daughter, the acclaimed opera director Polly Graham, was appointed as Artistic Director in 2018, working alongside Jennifer Smith, Executive Director.

Longborough’s intimate auditorium enables the audience to experience the drama and emotion on the stage on an almost personal level, firmly securing the summer season into the diaries of a loyal and ever-increasing audience.

Longborough Festival Opera is a charity, relying on ticket sales and the generosity of its members and audience.